I recently went to the funeral of someone I had never met – Larry, the father of two of my clients.  I was going to show support but came away changed and inspired.  What I knew of Larry going in was that he was a good man who had built a successful company and made a fair amount of wealth for himself.  He was the picture of success and hard work, the American dream and all of that.

But at the service, practically none of that was mentioned.  No business, no worldly wealth, no successful entrepreneur stories.  Instead, what was poured out were stories of a life well lived.  A man that loved God and exuded joy, kindness, generosity and all the fruit of the Spirit.  A man that kept his faith despite many years of battling with cancer, a friend who was always loyal, and someone who had a tireless emphasis on relationships and people.

There are those funerals where they say nice things because that’s what you’re supposed to do, even if the person was a real grump.  And then there are those where you can tell that the deceased really was worthy of a eulogy.  There was no question – this was the second kind.

It’s been said that no one ever goes to the grave wishing they had spent just a little more time at the office, but Larry is someone who has really challenged me on this.  What will I be remembered for?  What will be said about me at my funeral?  Will it matter at all how successful I can become?  Will my kids and friends remember me for being joyful and generous or for being driven and successful?

I’ve found that it’s very different reading these sorts of lessons in a book versus seeing them truly lived out in a man’s life.  We only get one shot at this life, one pass to live for what truly matters.  Larry did well for himself, but then used his wealth to invest in others, create memories, share with those not so fortunate, and create a lasting legacy.

When I think about what enabled Larry to live a life like this, I think it must be a sense of humility and belief.  Humility in remembering that everything he had was given to him by God.  Humility in not thinking less of himself but in thinking of himself less.  And belief that God is a gracious and generous Provider who promised never to leave nor forsake him.  Belief that however his battle with cancer ended, God was good and loved him dearly.

My encouragement for us all this season is to remember those things that really matter and to not get distracted by the urgent while forsaking the important.  Remember that most of the things we spend our time worrying about on a daily basis won’t matter a hill of beans when it’s time to sum up our lives.  Instead, it’ll be the relationships, the character qualities, and the stories we were able to create through shared experiences that will last beyond our lifetimes.

Thanks, Larry, for living a life well spent and inspiring the next generation to continue in your footsteps!